The Wall City Jazz Band 1954 -

The Wall City Jazzmen made their debut on the 18th. January 1954 at the old Clemence's restaurant in Northgate Street Chester. The format was to play Dixieland mainstream jazz and be as versatile as possible. The original band was really the Stan Roberts dance band with Stan Roberts Piano, Tom Jones Trumpet, Ian Ashworth Trombone and Tenor Sax. John Nutthall Double bass, Alan Lewis Drums. Paul Blake was invited to make up the standard front line on Clarinet.

Derek Masters and Don Davies promoted the band. Their intention was to provide an inexpensive post-weekend evening for young people. So successful was it that other bands were promoted for these evenings. These included the Freddie Rendar band and the Merseysippi Jazz Band.


L-R Paul, Tom and Ian.
 

Late in that year Gordon Vickers asked them if they would be the resident band at his proposed Wall City Jazz Club at Quaintways which was in the same street as the old venue, the band agreed and this club opened about six months later. It was at this venue that a 16 year old Pete Wright joined the band as a featured "Skiffel" singer and guitarist. In 1958 15year old Pat or Trish Fields joined the band, later she turned professional and won the TV New Faces with a band called Whiskey Mac. Both the Wall City Jazzmen and Trish have their names in bricks on the Wall Of Fame at Liverpool's Cavern Club.

Guest artists over the years included Earl Hines, Vic Dickinson, Edmund Hall Bud Freeman and many more. It also became quite normal for the band to play at jazz venues in London, such as George Webb’s Hot Club, the Fishmonger’s arms and Cooks Ferry, as well as concerts at the Shakespeare and Empire theatres in Liverpool. There were also gigs at provincial clubs such as St George’s hall, Blackburn and the Dudley Hippodrome amongst many others.

On 16th January 1957, Alan Sytner featured the Band, along with the Merseysippi Jazz Band and the Ralph Watmough Band at the opening of the Cavern in Liverpool, soon to succumb to skiffle and the Quarrymen.

However, so did the Wall City Jazz Club at Quaintways. Over the 20 years, that the Band played there the scene gradually changed from featuring some of the great British Jazz Bands and American guests such as Earl Hines to a more “Rock” orientated venue. Guests at this time included such bands as Long John Baldry’s “ Steam Packet “ with Judy Driscoll (Vocals), Elton John (keyboards) and a young Rod Stewart fronting. One foggy night Fleetwood Mac were booked but the evening had very few customers. Quaintways eventually closed only to open again as a nightclub.

After the closure of Quaintways, there was a long period of inactivity (about 18 years) until Paul Blake decided to reform the band in 1993, with Tom Jones (trumpet) and Trish Lewis (vocals) from the original lineup. Gordon Vickers heard about the band's reformation and invited them to play regularly at his new hotel in Chester, the Mill Hotel and Spa. This was the start of a very long and successful residency, which is still going strong today. Trish Fields had to retire in 2005, due to ill health, and Irene Martin became the band's new singer in 2006. Tom Jones retired in 2008, leaving just Paul Blake from the original band, and Bill Buck who played drums from day one at the Mill. Malcolm Pendry joined on bass just a few weeks after Bill, and was with the band until he retired in 2017.

On March 26 2018 there was a 25th anniversary celebration of the band's residency at the Mill. One week later, Paul Blake announced his retirement, having also recently celebrated his 90th birthday; an amazing achievement!

Gordon Vickers has now sold the Mill Hotel, but the band continues to play every Monday from 8 pm, with a regular crowd of avid supporters.
 

For more up-to-date information and pictures, use the link below:

 

Contacts:
Alan Jeffs (guitarist and band leader) 07825 838218
Email: alanjazzfunk@gmail.com

Irene Martin (singer) 07805 933564
Email: irenemartinmusic@gmail.com

 

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